Wired Magazine recently published an article that describes the current ‘low-tech’ revolution that is reshaping the technology sector. The article highlights several recent examples of how the ‘quality’ of technology is being redefined to favor accessibility over high-tech features.
Wired describes the MP3 as the classic example: the music format first broke ground as an accessible and portable file that users could share and publish online. Music aficionados and record companies denounced the MP3, saying that it provided inferior sound quality to the CD. What the music industry didn’t understand was that ‘quality’ was in the eye of the beholder; Internet users around the world used MP3s because of their accessibility, which was more important to them than an apparent decrease in sound fidelity. Today, the MP3 has surpassed the CD because of its convenience.
The Wired Magazine article goes on to point out several other products and sectors that are riding the ‘low tech’ wave, from point-and-shoot Flip Video Cameras to the easily accessible Google Documents. Each of these products could be considered inferior to their competitors in a side-by-side feature comparison, however, they have proven successful due to their lack of bells and whistles. I’d like to take this opportunity to share several other unmentioned products and industries that are benefiting from convenience over features. Feel free to add to the list if you think of anything else.
1. Documentary Film
The documentary is the polar opposite of the special effects-laden blockbuster movies that we became accustomed to in the 90s. In the place of A-listers and huge explosions, documentary film utilizes real people and relatively simple editing to tell a convincing story. In the recent decade, documentary has proved not only to be a durable art form but also a cost-effective box office draw.
Films like ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ grossed huge numbers and cost a fraction of what a typical blockbuster takes to produce. Documentary film is on the rise and represents a low-tech and efficient way to connect the audience with relevant stories. Off-shoots of documentary, like reality TV, have also proven to be incredibly successful despite the cliche formatting and relatively low production value.
2. ‘Back to the Basics’ Sports Philosophy
In the past decade we’ve seen championship teams arise not based on their huge star power but on teamwork and a philosophy in succeeding at ‘the basics.’ Whether it be getting that extra base on a sac-fly or finding four different receivers with an array of screen passes; the little things are what have been winning games.
The New York Yankees, with an all-star-studded lineup and astronomical pay grade, have failed in many respects to live up to their ten year potential due to a lack of concentration on the details. The Yankees are akin to a high-def. video camera that touts numerous features, but lacks the basics to make it convenient and usable.
3. Applicant Tracking
In the world of corporate recruiting, there is a complex maze of collaboration and applicant tracking steps that proceed a hire. Many software solutions for this in-depth process offer a wealth of features to improve a company’s ability to track potential job applicants. These many bells and whistles often only slow the process though.
Some software developers took a different route and decided to cut out the extra features and instead concentrate on accessibility and collaboration: the basics for a more efficient applicant tracking solution. These simple but convenient solutions are quickly making headway due to their ‘get-to-the-point’ nature and ‘anytime, anywhere’ online accessibility.
In a world where we have social networks for every possible niche, many laden with high tech features to ‘increase social communication,’ Twitter has proven again that simplicity is king. Essentially, you can follow, be followed and tweet. Twitter is successful because it has latched onto our basic need to ‘publicize’ even the most menial events of our lives.
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